Day of Redemption
by Del Harvey
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The cover reads: “A homicidal maniac is obsessed with revenge. A guilt-ridden lawman desperately seeking redemption. When their two worlds collide, only one will survive the deadly ‘dance with destiny.’”
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Small-town Arizona sheriff Frank Everly (Jeff Fahey - Wyatt Earp, Silverado) has been listening to his wife Mary (Kristian Alfonso - Days of Our Lives) complain about a stalker, Vincent Pope (David Lee Rawlings), and repeatedly tells her there’s nothing he can do until the guy actually breaks a law and she can give him something to take Pope to court. Soon thereafter, Everly watches in horror as Maryis brutally murdered before his very eyes by Pope. Frank’s life becomes consumed by grief and guilt. Two years later, the crazed killer escapes prison with one purpose in mind — to destroy the lawman who sent him there. Frank now must pull himself together to hunt down his vicious adversary. There follows a deadly game of cat and mouse which culminates in a deserted mining town, aptly named Redemption, where only a lunatic ex-preacher and his beautiful deaf daughter reside. And where Pope has come to fight one last battle with Everly.
As indie films go, Day of Redemption is not bad. Doing an action or suspense film and doing it well is highly difficult. Day actually boasts a story, realized characters, and a serviceable plot. But don’t sit down to watch this film expecting Hostage or Man on Fire. Thos films require much larger budgets and quality production values. Day of Redemption is more along the lines of an 80’s action suspense film, which is to say it’s every bit as good as most of its American ilk.
Longtime journeyman Fahey’s professional abilities are apparent as the remorseful sheriff with a desire to right the wrongs of his past. Looking a little worse for wear, Fahey manages to remain in charge of his emotions while revealing a deep-felt sorrow. David Lee Rawlings has a menacing physical presence and manages to pull off a few of the darker scenes with conviction. The rest of the cast all performed quite well, especially Shanna Brock as blind girl Molly and John DiBene as her father. The overriding feeling I came away with from these performances was not unlike watching the original Night of the Living Dead for the first time. These are actors who are used to performing for independent directors with small budgets and knowing they might only get one or two takes. But they do the best they can, and it actually turns out being pretty darned good.
Rawlings also wrote and produced the film, which was directed by Anthony J. Christopher, who has helmed a handful of other indie titles, and so has some experience behind the camera. Day of Redemption was awarded the Official Selection at both the 2004 San Diego Film Festival and the 2004 Arizona International Film Festival.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly and a screenwriter and film teacher living in Chicago.
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